Interpublic opens some international locations, but "will not rush back" to all offices

"As we said at the start of this crisis, this is a marathon, not a sprint."

Companies are cautiously wading into the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially about how they return to offices. 

On Monday, WPP CEO Mark Read laid out his "slow and measured process" to staffers in a memo, while Omnicom CEO John Wren explained the network’s three-phase return-to-office plan to employees in an email.

Earlier this month, Interpublic Group chairman and CEO Michael Roth penned an emailed to staff that discussed how the holding company will take its time.

"I want to be clear: IPG and our people do not need to and will not rush back to our offices," he said.

IPG has reopened offices in countries such as New Zealand, Sri Lanka, China, Singapore, and in parts of Europe.

In the U.S., the strategy will vary, the company said. For example, the process will be different for Acxiom’s headquarters in Conway, Arkansas, which is on an 80-acre campus, where people drive their own cars to a spacious, three-story building, compared to New York City, a place where most people rely on public transportation and have to go into elevators.

"We have proven without a doubt that we can accomplish the fundamentals of our work responsibilities and service our clients with 95% of us working from home. Which means we can learn from watching how other industries such as retail, manufacturing and hospitality return physically to the workplace ahead of us," said Roth.

"As we said at the start of this crisis, this is a marathon, not a sprint," he added.

IPG leaders are being tasked with figuring out which employees are most critical for in-office work and how teams can be staggered when more offices are ready to re-open, in accordance with guidelines from health and government officials.

The holding company is also taking into consideration its employees' feelings on the topic.

Roth wrote: "Some issues to consider: will being in the office empower me to do my job better? How so? Will I feel safe commuting to work? Do I have childcare or family care or health issues that are factors in my ability to come back to the office?"

While everyone, Roth included, misses the "camaraderie of working together in a shared space," he said the plans must be methodical and careful to keep everyone safe.

"Our industry has the luxury of not having to return to the office immediately to be efficient and productive. And for that, we are thankful," he said.

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